So here I am.
Back in Japan.
In Tokyo to be precise.
I am reclining in a leather lounge chair in a suite at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Roppongi Hills to be even more precise.
I have been here many times before - Japan, Tokyo, the Grand Hyatt hotel and Roppongi Hills - however I have only ever been here for work.
Such is life.
Well my life at least.
I flew out from Singapore very early this morning and arrived in Tokyo in a little over seven hours
We must have had a strong tail wind.
It usually takes about eight.
Hours that is.
In the week prior to my departure I had some email correspondence with my Japanese friend Myoki San – who I met on a plane from Singapore to Tokyo last year. Myoki is an assistant of some sorts to an elderly and I think very powerful Oyabun.
An Oyabun is a Godfather in the Japanese mafia.
I am unable and unwilling to name the Godfather as I promised him I would not and I tend to keep my word about such things.
I took an oath.
On that particular flight the Oyabun was accompanied by two very large and immaculately dressed bodyguards – and of course Myoki San. I knew the Oyabun was an Oyabun because his be-suited companions each had the pinky finger removed from one hand - and I could see up their sleeves and I saw that they were heavily tattooed.
I was sitting in the aisle seat next to the Oyabun-who-I-will-not-name and I ended up chatting a bit to him through Myoki – who had to interpret for the both of us. I know very little Japanese and the Oyabun spoke little English. For most of the flight though I chatted with Myoki.
She was seated on the aisle seat opposite me – and the bodyguards were seated behind me.
I found Myoki San to be both charming and gorgeous and we got on very well.
I am pretty sure I fell in love with her within an hour.
Perhaps it was a little less.
I will not harp on about the plane trip and the relaxed and easy conversation between the Japanese angel and myself. Nor will I recant how the Oyabun and his entourage took me by helicopter to my hotel. I will not elaborate on the afternoon I had tea with the Godfather at his house in Shinjuku – and where I saw his glorious Zen garden and his impressive Samurai sword collection – nor indeed the evening I spent with Myoki San at one of the Godfather’s high class nightclubs.
For I have written about all of this before.
Read it for yourself.
I don’t care either way
The emails I exchanged with Myoki were to initially inform her that I was coming to Tokyo for a few days of business and I would be honoured and delighted if I could see both her and the Oyabun again.
She didn’t reply for a few days but when she did she apologised for the delay and referred to me as “My dearest most Honourable Peter San” in her opening line.
I liked that a lot.
She enquired as to the dates I was in Tokyo and what flights I was arriving and departing on and I gave them to her.
I replied with the opening line “My dearest and most gorgeous and wonderful Myoki San” and I gave her the dates.
Two days ago she wrote back and she wrote that she was again sorry but she was not yet sure of the Oyabun’s busy work schedule but she would be in touch to let me know.
I wrote back and said I was aware he was a very busy and important man – and she was a very busy and important woman and I fully understood if they had no room in their schedules to see me. I added that I was going to be a bit busy myself – as I was in town for work and only for a few days.
I love the etiquette and the manners of the Japanese. The reverence with which they communicate is as endearing as it is delightful.
It really is.
I was not particularly surprised when the plane landed at Narita airport and I alighted the plane to see Myoki San waiting. Two hulking dudes dressed in very nice black suits accompanied her.
When one of them grabbed my carry on bag and the other my laptop bag I took a peak at their hands and yes – they were nine fingered.
Myoki was dressed in Western attire however her hair was pulled up and held together in a delicate bun by what appeared to be chopsticks. Her beautiful white neck was exposed and I swear I saw bluebirds and butterflies dancing around her head.
When she smiled and bowed at me my heart skipped several beats.
I am in love for sure.
The yakuza dudes bowed deeply and I bowed back.
I will be doing a hell of a lot of bowing in the next few days.
It is the Japanese way.
I also embraced Myoki and I basked momentarily in the scent of frangipani, which suited her well. She asked if my flight was OK and whether I had any other luggage.
I told her I did not.
She then asked for my passport – which I gave her – and she barked some Japanese at a little ten-fingered guy who bowed to me and took my travel documents. He whisked away before I could bow back.
With Myoki on my arm we strolled away from the immigration area through some corridors and exited a door to a helicopter pad.
I had been there before.
The same American pilot Buzz was in the front and as we approached he jumped out and bowed to Myoki and me grinned a big hello.
“How are you doing Buzz?” I asked
“Like a pig in shit Peter San” he drawled.
This I assume was a good thing.
As we sat in the chopper and Buzz turned on the rotors the ten fingered little fellow ran up and handed Myoki my passport.
That was quick.
The Oyabun is a powerful dude indeed to bypass customs and immigration.
Buzz spoke some Japanese into his headset and within a couple of minutes we had taken off and were high above Tokyo.
It is a very big city.
After about ten minutes we had passed the city and my hotel – and I asked Miyoki where we were going.
“There Peter San” she pointed.
Ahead of us was the splendor of Mount Fuji.
“Nice one” I grinned.
It took us only 20 minutes or so to reach Mount Fuji and Buzz took us once around the edifice. I have been there before – but I had never seen it from the air.
It was beautiful
We landed on the west side of the mountain – not actually on the mountain itself – but in what I initially thought was a park of some sort.
It was not.
It was the garden of one of the Godfather’s houses.
When we alighted the chopper I was overcome by the fragrance of flowers and the pollen that hung thick in the air. Or is it that hanged thick in the air? Irrespective - I sneezed a couple of times.
Myoki San expressed her immediate concern and I told her I was OK.
I told her that I had never before smelled air so sweet.
She smiled and took my arm and guided me to a cobbled path that led between what seemed to be a forest of pink cherry blossom.
“It is Spring now Peter San. It is the time for new life and celebration and the Master always comes to this house for the beginning of the season”
I have only ever heard Myoki refer to the Oyabun as “Master” of “Senpai” and I am still unsure of what her relationship is with the man. It would be very impolite of me to ask such a thing.
She could well be his mistress or just his assistant or possibly even be his daughter.
I may never know.
It doesn’t really matter.
Before too long the forest of blossoms ran out and we were walking between two small lakes upon which floated lilies of every shape and size and hue – all in full bloom.
Beyond the lake was a traditional Japanese house made of wood and stone.
It was stunning.
From a large double door the Oyabun emerged. He was dressed in traditional Japanese garb and he beamed a very warm hello at me.
I returned the smile and we shook hands warmly and then hugged.
I feel very close to this dear old fellow even though I have only met with him on a few occasions and even though I know he runs a large and illegal empire likely to do with drugs and murders and mayhem and prostitution.
I don’t know why.
He took my arm and with Myoki now trailing us we walked around the patio to where tea was laid out on a table.
It was beautiful.
With Myoki translating we traded polite niceties for a while before the Godfather asked about my health and my family and he enquired whether my son was still doing his bonsai.
I told him that he was and I showed him some photos from my I-Phone.
He seemed genuinely interested.
I wont disclose too much more of our conversation as it is personal and some of it secretive and I have already declared that I have taken an oath.
The Oyabun was very insightful though and whilst he was not a man of many words – the words he seemed to carefully and thoughtfully impart conveyed great meaning and depth.
When I commented how beautiful his gardens were the Godfather smiled and said, “Kachou Fuugetsu”
I looked at Myoki San and she too smiled and said, “Peter San there is no literal translation of this saying but it more or less means that if you experience the beauty of nature then you will surely learn much about yourself”
“Nice” I said
The Godfather seemed particularly interested in my boy Tom as we had discussed him at length during my last visit. I had told the Oyabun that Tom was basically a good kid – but he often did silly things and he was on a b it of a journey growing up. The Godfather seemed to understand this and he implied without directly saying – that his own son was similar.
When he enquired how Tom was behaving and I shrugged my shoulders and sighed – Sempai said “Saru mo ki kara ochiru” and Myoki San giggled.
“Sempai says that even monkeys fall from trees sometimes Peter San – and that everyone makes mistakes”
I laughed myself.
“Kaeru nook wa kaeru Peter San” the Godfather added and my Japanese angel giggled once more.
“This is a saying that means that a child of a frog is also a frog Peter San – and I think you Westerners say like father like son” she smiled at me.
“Wise words indeed Myoki San” I agreed.
It was very pleasant.
When it was time to go the Oyabun told me through Miyoki that he had a gift for me. A little butler type dude appeared and to my great surprise he was holding a Samurai sword in a very ornate sheath.
Myoki explained that it was more than 400 years old and had once belonged to one of the Senpai’s ancestors. She told me that it had been used in battle and was forged by a great maker.
I could hardly believe the kindness and generosity and I bowed as deep as I could to show my appreciation.
I then asked Myoki where my bag was for I had a gift for the Oyabun and for her as well. She said something to the little butler fellow who scurried off somewhere. While we were waiting I said that I was a little embarrassed as my gift to them both was nowhere near as beautiful or as generous.
The Godfather said something that Myoki said was difficult to directly translate into English – but was something along the lines of the act of giving being more precious than the gift itself.
When my bag arrived I pulled out two leather bound copies of my new book and a couple of hardcover versions of my first book. The first one is not very good and is called “Alphabet Soup” and I explained that in it was the story of my first encounter with the two of them. Oyabun looked a little worried and I assured him there was nothing with his name in it or anything else that would identify him.
I told him that in fact one of the stories was called “Oath” – and it was about the promises of secrecy I had made to him.
I informed both Myoki and the Sempai that I was much happier with the second book - and it had only just been released. I had arranged for only a few special embossed copies for my dearest friends and I had written a personal note to both the Godfather and to Myoki San inside.
The Oyabun asked Myoki to ask me what the title of the book meant and I told them both that “With a rainbow coloured flower and a khadak in my hand” was something that a little girl in Nepal had written to me in a thank you note for being her friend and helping her get an education.
The Godfather smiled in a wise sort of a way and so too did Myoki.
I hugged the Oyabun-who-I-shall-never-name again - and as Myoki and I walked back over the lake and into the cherry blossom forest I turned and we waved to each other.
The helicopter ride to the Grand Hyatt hotel didn’t take very long and I felt quite auspicious being greeted by the hotel staff on the rooftop helipad. I let the porters take my bags but I insisted on carrying the Samurai sword myself.
I am looking at it now as I write this down.
It is very beautiful.
I am pretty sleepy after such a long day but I wanted to write all this down while it was fresh in my mind.
I just got a text from Miyoki San bidding me sweet dreams and asking if I was all right.
I am about to reply that that I am.
I will tell her that I am quite all right.